Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Becker has a full week under his belt in the office.
His first impression is that the office staff has been “very helpful” as he transitions into his new role.
“We have really hit the ground running,” Becker told The Missourian.
Over the next few weeks Becker — along with other area prosecutors — will “conflict swap” cases handled by themselves or their law firms.
Becker who took office Jan. 2, had been a managing partner in Becker Robinson Brinkmann & Fulford, in Union. He explained many of the cases handled by the firm, now called Robinson Brinkmann & Fulford LLC, are being prosecuted by attorneys in St. Charles, Osage, Gasconade, St. Francois counties and possibly more.
According to Becker, cases also will be given to the state Attorney’s General office and civil cases that could pose a conflict will be handled by Mark Piontek, county counselor.
“There are options, so one person will not be dumped with everything,” Becker stated. “Every case is going to an experienced prosecutor with the appropriate skill set — that’s how the judges are making the determinations.”
Becker further explained that some cases are divvied up to make more economic sense, meaning if a prosecutor from another county comes to Franklin County to fill in for Becker, it will be in front of the same judge.
Special prosecutors are appointed by judges.
“That way they are not coming out for different divisions,” he said.
Becker stated 90 percent of the cases should be reassigned by the end of the week.
“We will be over 99 percent at the end of the month,” he added “I don’t foresee the need to seek a single continuance based on me taking office.”
According to Becker, there is a range of cases handled by Robinson Brinkmann & Fulford that he will not prosecute. However, few are as high profile as the case Brett J. Pendleton who was indicted by the Franklin County grand jury in January 2018 three felony counts of statutory sodomy or attempted statutory sodomy, deviate sexual intercourse, with a person less than 12 years old; child molestation and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Jillian Anderson, first assistant prosecutor, St. Charles County, was appointed to the Pendleton case Dec. 28.
Becker noted in February 2018 he backed off taking many cases.
“I stopped taking criminal cases shortly after I announced I would file,” he said. “Before I announced I stopped taking felonies — I wasn’t taking anything that I couldn’t wrap up before the election.”
Becker won a primary race in August 2018 and there was no challenger for the seat in the November General Election.
While cases where people are represented by Robinson Brinkmann & Fulford will be doled out to other prosecutors, Becker will take cases where there are conflicts in other counties, including St. Francois County where Melissa Gilliam also took office at the beginning of the year.
Becker was born and raised in Franklin County on a farm outside of Gerald. He graduated from St. Francis Borgia Regional High School in 1993. He went on to graduate from Truman State University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in justice systems. Becker graduated from law school at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2003, where he participated in the domestic violence clinic.
In 2014, Becker and William Robinson opened Becker and Robinson. The firm has grown the past three years into Becker, Robinson, Brinkmann & Fulford.
Becker also has been frequently appointed by Franklin County judges to serve as the guardian ad litem in child abuse/neglect cases.
Prior to his work in private practice, Becker was employed in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office, which experienced a high volume of criminal trials that he worked or heavily participated in as “first chair.” That includes drug trafficking, violent felonies and burglaries.
Becker was a fully commissioned police officer for three years in a town of about 120,000 residents. After college, he served as a police officer in Fort Smith, Ark. He is a graduate of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.